4 reasons to attend a Girls on Granite weekend in Yosemite

 

This past weekend, four of us gals joined the Girls on Granite women’s rock climbing workshop in Yosemite. Here are four reasons you should consider signing up for this workshop.

 

1. Learn the outdoor climbing skills you’ve wanted to acquire.

During the two-day workshop, our awesome Yosemite Mountaineering School guides Hope and Lyra helped us gain the important outdoor climbing skills that we could never master in the gym. They taught us the essentials of climbing on granite and in cracks, and offered awesome tips on foot position, hand jams, and body weight shifts. They also did a great job of teaching us the specific skills we wanted to learn – which, for us, meant building anchors and placing gear for trad climbing.

 

2. Gain a sense of place

Rock climbing is a relatively young sport, and a significant portion of its history is based in Yosemite. The guides passed on the stories behind the names of areas in the park – Manure Pile Buttress, for example, was once a very descriptive term for the crag just east of El Capitan – and shared tales about climbers coming together to preserve Camp 4, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its role in the development of the sport. (For more on the history of climbing in Yosemite, Hope recommended ‘Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rockclimber.’)

3. Have a pre-climbing soy latte and a post-climbing shower

The Girls on Granite package includes a two-night stay in Curry Village. Once we got over any illusions of a rustic weekend, we were happy to indulge in Curry Village’s amenities. We discovered that the Curry Village Coffee Corner brewed the best soy lattes, ever. And after a day of climbing, Curry Village’s bathhouse, complete with hot showers and towel service, were the perfect antidote for our sunscreen-sprayed, DEET-smeared bodies.

 

4. Girl time!

The only thing that could rival Sister Adventures are adventures with a sister, our friends, and new friends, all of whom are as passionate about climbing as we are.

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The many wonders of Yosemite Valley

It was the perfect Sunday hike.

Instead of starting with the sun, we met in Fresno at 10 a.m. We took our time driving to the gates of Yosemite National Park, and chose to hike in Mariposa Grove, near the entrance of the park, rather than continuing another hour or so into Yosemite Valley.

We began the Mariposa Outer Loop Trail under clear blue skies, and quickly removed our jackets. As we tromped along the path, under trees whose leaves had turned brilliant reds and yellows, we chatted about everyday topics – work, relationships, what we had concocted recently in the kitchen.

But our thoughts would switch from mundane to wonder in an instant – at the sight of a ferret, who watched us as we sat on logs and built gourmet turkey, cheese and pesto sandwiches, or at the glimpse of a munching chipmunk perched on a rock, or a squirrel with a spotted tail. Or at the scent of maple, wafting from trees.

And definitely while experiencing the magic of the Telescope Tree – a completely hollow, giant Sequoia tree that you can stand inside. Then you look up, and from within the tree, you, can see the sky.

We hiked the 6-mile loop in about three hours, and were returning to the parking lot when I saw a sight that truly made me stop in my tracks. My friends were studying a grove of horsetail, but I was examining a fellow park visitor.

Could those be the members of Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, a funky blues band we’d seen perform at Fresno’s Fulton 55 the night before? It was!

“Hey, Black Joe Lewis!” my friend called out, before striking up a conversation with the band members. Turns out they were on their way to San Francisco to play at the Fillmore the next night. But we recommended that they first make it to Tunnel View – a majestic viewpoint on the way into Yosemite Valley. They, too, it seems, were in the mood for some wonder.

 Photo: Taken by me, at Glacier Point, during a reporting trip in Yosemite